Wednesday, April 21, 2010


A tale of two boxes!

After waiting in much anticipation, I received my Phatfiber Unbirthday Swap package today, and it was well worth the wait!  It's a fantastic selection of delightful things and I cracked up repeatedly when I opened it. It's not just what I wanted, it's also charming and full of character. Oh, what am I saying, I should just show off the haul:

click for even bigger

The first thing that met my eyes was the little trash can, and I had to laugh. It's got a little black "trash" bag in it that's filled to the brim with all sorts of crispy crunchy snack foods liberally covered in chocolate. It's brilliant and I love the tin. I can just imagine using it to store things, perhaps yarn scraps, once I'm done with the candy.  I've been on a chocolate kick lately, so I imagine it will be emptied faster than usual for me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The morel of the story

I frequently reflect that I live in a lovely place.  But every once in a while things happen that make me marvel anew at just how beautiful and delightful it is here in rural New Jersey.

Granted, rural New Jersey isn't all that rural in the grand scheme of things. But there's farm land a brief walk away, the land behind the house belongs to the county as Green Acres, and we have deer and wild turkey regularly wandering through.  When the wind is right, you can smell the buffalo farm.... Er, right.

Today, I found morels near the driveway.  We harvested morels around this time last year in the same place.  Now, it's not a "miracle of the wood" because I seeded giant morels near there many years ago.  But it was long enough ago that I thought it had just disappeared into nothingness. Then a while back a few morels popped up in the garden. And then last year we noticed a fair crop of them next to the driveway. And this year, there they were again. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Woe and calamity and soap

The woe and calamity are that 1) the two etsyhacks I use the most are not working for me. This makes using my shop much less efficient. 2) Email from both etsy and paypal are slow to arrive, meaning I nearly didn't see two orders that came in today in time to go out in today's mail. I managed to get them out in time, but it was a close run thing.

The soap is this:

hand felted soaps

These are all Kiss My Face soaps in the 4oz size, in a number of different scents. The wool is Corriedale roving which I hand dyed. The ducky was needle felted first, and I touched up several of the bars with more needlefelting to secure loose bits. There was a bit of a learning curve, so three of the soaps have a much thicker layer of roving that's rather less felted. But they'll become tighter with use and they're felted enough to hold their shape. This comes from feeling the first layer was too thin and patchy, and having to put a thick second layer on top of that one. Too thin and it would just felt into ropes that wouldn't stick to the base.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I'm sitting here waiting for my turn in the kitchen since it's my turn to cook (chicken braised with tomatoes and onions and some herbs, I think, and pasta, and some sort of green veg). And since I can't get anything significant done in the next 20min, I thought I'd blog. (:P)

First, I wanted to flash a picture of what keeps growing. Namely my in progress Widgets. I assemble them and then they languish like that for a while until I get around to hammering them.

It's never done. *facepalm* I assemble a whole bunch and then realize I've not done the ones I need for the next month and then pull out more beads and and and. Yeah.

And then I wanted to muse a bit on how the Phatfiber Box has morphed from what I expected of it. Namely, I thought that the samples were the thing, you know? The bits of fiber or yarn in hand. But it turns out that the pictures are the thing. There's more to it than that, but I'm just going to talk about a general trend, here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


No, not the stylized movie with lots of oiled pectoral muscles and digital grading. 300th sale. It's an arbitrary milestone but a milestone nonetheless, to count the number of items I sell and think of each century as a significant achievement.

This was 300.

I'm pleased with 300. It's Purple Peacock and I listed it and 12 other skeins last night.

Now, on to listing more yarn. I can't get to 400 without listing stuff, after all. I'm almost done listing everything I dyed up in March. I just have 4 colorways left. Tonight should finish that batch. It's in time for the Phatfiber video, which is always good. Then, a break to work on other critical things (taxes, yipe!), and then I'll get April done and listed.

And then it'll be time to dye more yarn for April, and then on to May. Where does the time go?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Is this TMI? - weight loss

I'm a little o.O because I'm under 160lbs for the first time in, well, a really long time.

On the one hand, it's celebratory because it's a sign that I'm doing something right. On the other hand, it's not. Because it's just part of a very long road, and because while I weigh less, I'm not more fit.

Weight loss without increase in fitness is mostly cosmetic when it's the difference between 176 and 156, I know that. Still, I have a little interior satisfaction knowing that the 156 is there staring at me from the scale instead of the 176. And all it took was 3 years of portion control and getting out of bed. :P

*dances a little, anyway*

Here, have a picture of the sky yesterday, when I finished taking yarn pictures. The light was starting to angle low behind the house, and was catching through the new spring green.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Slow on the uptake

How could I have missed this today, when I'd specifically been told about it?

Knitcircus blogged a review of my yarn!

Taiga, the colorway that was reviewed

I'm really pleased Jaala enjoyed working with it. If I were more on the ball, I'd have more Taiga up in the shop, instead of sitting waiting to be photographed.

Back to the Gimp mines!

A left turn at Albuquerque

I think excessive heat does something to my ability to think in straight lines, and to focus. We're thankfully out of the absurd heat wave that made me put ice on my computer just to be able to type, but in that few days instead of doing lots of things I should have, I knit mail.

OK, I didn't knit a lot of mail, and it's not like I completely flaked off. But still, how does one explain this?

Especially when I have so much else to do?

That's a 3.25in barrette. I needle felted the base out of some Corriedale, glued and sewed it to the bare barrette, and then sewed on the chain. I learned how to do Byzantine Chain from this person's video.

Now it's time to go back to the Gimp mines and make more ads and actually edit some pictures so I can list more yarn. I need to get all of the yarn dyed in March listed so I can start listing April.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kitchen sink cookery - Not-paella

Wednesday is my night to cook, and as I get lazier I've become attached to one pot cooking. At the same time, I don't want it to all taste the same, look the same, or feel like eating undifferentiated soylent green. Cue a discussion of recipes with a friend who also cooks on Wednesdays, and the entirely too enticing idea of "paella" made with couscous instead of rice.

This, of course, inevitably led to a Fake-paella Off! We've both made couscous "paella" with shrimp tonight, the winner gets a delicious dinner to eat. The discerning will realize that we are both winners in this case, since we're both competent enough cooks to make it delicious, and separated as we are by several states we're each cooking our own dinners. But it's fun to go into it as a sort of challenge. It's also an excuse to take lots of pictures.

I call this kitchen sink cookery because it's like making fried rice. It doesn't matter what goes in as long as it all works together. In the end, it's all about ingredient order since it's all made in one pot. I was substituting and estimating through most of this, and it came out exceedingly tasty. It was also, to my delight, incredibly fast. The ingredient prep took longer than the cooking. I started all prep at 5pm and had the Not-paella and a secondary vegetable done by 5:45. (Disclaimer, looking at my log, I actually started prep at 4:15ish. But I was also doing a million other things, and chatting, and taking pictures and things. The actual cooking took about 25min.)

The finished product, one serving with shrimp and no large turkey pieces and one with only turkey. I can't really eat shrimp; I have a mild sensitivity to them. So the turkey was for me, and to add richness to the broth. For a gander at the competition and her fine looking not-paella, go here

One thing I really liked about this, as well, is that I'm not actually that fond of the saucy rice in paella or risotto. It's often too mushy or sticky/glutinous for me. The couscous fluffs up into tender bites that are not at all gummy. It has a light feeling to it, which is perfect for hot weather. And because it's cooked so quickly, each bit of the dish retains its own flavor while still blending together as a whole. Very tasty and not at all mush or porridge-like.

So, on to the recipe. Substitution is inevitable, so this is just an idea of what to put into it. Varying seasonings and primary ingredients would give it a very different flavor and I fully intend to try that some time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Oy vey is mir, my samples they are sent

I really have to get better at working on my Phatfiber samples in a timely fashion. It always becomes one of those races to the finish where I have not enough sleep and too much caffeine. This is even with my mother's considerable help in assembling the things.

One would think that having them done a week in advance is more than early enough, but I know to my sorrow that the USPS's "2-3 days" is just a best case scenario. So, today was the absolute latest to get April's samples into the mail so they have a reasonable certainty of arriving in time for the video.

This is perhaps why it's laughable that I hope to get two months done next time. I'm really hoping to switch over to sending two sets of samples every other month. It saves on shipping and the craziness is half as often. ... Well, we'll see.

The theme for April is All Creatures Great and Small, so I sent 12 Widget stitch markers with my yarn samples. The yarn sample colorway is Tigers, which I have dyed up in the 6oz and the 4oz sizes. I sent some samples in each and labeled as such because the dye interval is different between the two due to the skein size.

A 5g sample of Jackrabbit in the Tigers colorway, from a 4oz skein.

Then, because I had time, I pulled together my Phatfiber Unbirthday Swap package. To anyone who might be following along from the PF Rav group, this post will totally give away who isn't getting my box, but since not that many people read this blog, I figure it's safe enough.

Now that it's safely on its way, I do have some thoughts about this swap as a swap. For anyone not interested, there's a picture further down of the actual contents.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The yarn mines

So many things to update, so little time. It is a basic conundrum that the more things there are to blog the less time one has to do so.

Friday and Saturday were spent in the yarn mines. My family doesn't do Easter, but I have some colorful "eggs" nonetheless. I put each batch of yarn in a bag and steam it for half an hour before rinsing. This way I can be certain that everything gets hot enough to set the dye since crockpots can be a little uneven. I reuse the bags until they spring a leak.

I realized upon looking at the first set that my personal preference for green really came out with a vengeance. I tried to subvert it into other colors on Saturday but, well, it didn't work. I went blue, but even the blue is rather green.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


We used to have guineafowl, to eat bugs in the yard.  We don't anymore, but I still have a shoebox full of feathers collected from them. They're wonderfully polkadotted and barred, and marvelously soft.

I'm doing a swap sponsored by the Ravelry Phatfiber group, and I decided to try sewing a feather fascinator, and that led to dyeing the feathers.